The Era of Big Mafia is Over

[I]f you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band...
- Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty (p. 46)

PALERMO, Sicily (Reuters) - The good news is that the Sicilian Mafia has slashed the rates it charges "clients." The bad news is that it has vastly expanded its client base.

"Pagare tutti, pagare meno," roughly translated as "everybody pays, everybody pays less," is the new slogan Sicilian magistrates and mayors are using to describe what the Mafia is doing these days....

Libero Grassi, owner of a thriving textile company outside Palermo, was killed in 1991 after he refused to pay a large monthly "pizzo," the Sicilian word for an extortion payment.

The new strategy is to avoid exorbitant rates, such as the ones applied to Grassi's factory, but to cast the protection net much further afield, even to small shopkeepers.

"This gives the Mafia a lot of advantages. Everyone pays so the intake is more or less what it was before. The shopkeeper who does not feel strangled by exorbitant rates finds it more convenient to deal with the Mafia," Ingroia said.

Salvino Caputo, mayor of the city of Monreale, which lies on the edge of Palermo, says that in some cases even relatives of Mafia members pay.

"There's no commercial activity in our area that does not pay extortion, even a small one like 20 euros ($23.98) a month," he said.

The Mafia also makes money through public works contracts, but instead of trying directly to influence how they are awarded, it moves in later.

"A 'clean' company wins the contact but then the Mafia 'suggests' where it should buy its cement, where to get the bulldozers, and so it goes," Caputo said.

It's not just money the Mafia is after, magistrates and mayors say. It wants "consensus" to control the territory.

It means the Mafia selling itself as a fact of life, even a benevolent association that helps find a job or fix a problem. This makes it not just a criminal organization but a criminal phenomenon rooted in history and harder to extirpate. ...

The Provenzano doctrine is defined by no attacks against the state and managing internal dissent through consensus, persuasion and paternal largesse rather than execution.

Riina was a dictator but magistrates paint Provenzano as the head of a directorate -- as democratic as a Mafioso can get.

When Mafia bosses today hear on the grapevine that a member is not happy and is considering turning state's evidence, they no longer kill him or his family but send envoys to listen to his complaints and try to keep him in the fold.

[Link via Tyler Cowen]

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"Everybody pays, everybody

"Everybody pays, everybody pays less."

That's a classic public goods argument.

is it just me or does that

is it just me or does that sound like what the goverment does now?

So, wait -

So, wait - protection-racketeers in Sicily get paid in pizza??

maybe they read that article

maybe they read that article about pizza delivery in Sydney.

seriously though. the

seriously though. the underlying motives are exactly the same for both groups, gov't or the mafia, and even more important, the outcome for me the individual is EXACTLY the same. MY MONEY IS GONE without me having any say in how or where it went. i've said this a million times to people, i don't care if its the mafia or the care bears, its irrelevant. MY WEALTH IS GONE. by putting some stupid X on a ballot every 4 years somehow makes that process right is a concept only an absolute moron could endorse , let alone rally around. if your vote really counted they'd make it illegal, just like the mafia. theres no way around it.

If the Mafia wasn't around,

If the Mafia wasn't around, who would sell the cement and bulldozers? Huh? HUH?!?

- Josh